Differences in national legislation for the implementation of lead regulations included in the European directive for the protection of the health and safety of workers with occupational exposure to chemical agents (98/24/EC)

Tidsskriftartikel - 2007

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Background: The European Council Directive 98/24 on the protection of the health and safety of workers exposed to chemical agents sets out provisions for environmental and biological monitoring, making specific reference to binding limit values and health surveillance measures for those with exposure to lead Objectives: To compare how the Directive has been implemented at a national level in EU countries and to determine whether workers receive equivalent protection. Methods Information on selected key issues was collected from 14 EU countries by means of a structured questionnaire. Results: National occupational exposure limit values generally reflect that set by the Directive (0.15 mg/m3), but in five cases lower limits are set. National binding biological limit values range from 20 µg/100 ml blood in one country up to 80 µg/100 ml blood in others. The risk to the unborn child is generally recognised with specific measures for women of child-bearing potential or those that are pregnant or breast feeding. In only three countries are special arrangements included for young workers. Limits at which medical surveillance is put into effect are more consistent at 40 µg/100 ml in most countries. The Directive also refers to guidelines for health surveillance but none have been issued with respect to lead. Thus monitoring strategies and requirements for analytical performance vary considerably. Conclusions: The results of this survey suggest that protection of workers against the risk of exposure to lead at work is far from uniform across the European Union. Such disparity may also have implications on the requirements set at national level for laboratories measuring lead in blood and/or air. In the interest of harmonisation within the EU, further consideration should be given to the Annex II of the EC Directive 98/24, taking into account the suggestions for lower binding limit values for lead; this should include full guidelines for medical surveillance and requirements for laboratories should be issued.

Reference

Taylor A, Angerer J, Arnaud J, Claeys F, Kristiansen J, Mazarrasa O, Menditto A, Patriarca M, Pineau A, Valkonen S, Weykamp C. Differences in national legislation for the implementation of lead regulations included in the European directive for the protection of the health and safety of workers with occupational exposure to chemical agents (98/24/EC). Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2007;80(3):254-264.
doi: 10.1007/s00420-006-0118-3

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